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‘He Could Not Stand There and Not Jump In’: Teenage Boy Dies In Canal Flooded by Hurricane Ian Trying to Save His 6-Year-Old Brother Who Disappeared

In an effort to save his 6-year-old brother’s life, a Florida teen sacrificed his own. Both boys died, drowning in a local canal.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, during the throes of Hurricane Ian, Tahjon Burrowes, 17, noticed his little brother Tahjir was missing from the family home. A week after the storm touched, the young boy, challenged with a severe form of autism, wandered out of the house, wearing only his T-shirt and a diaper, NBC News reports.

Attracted to bodies of water, the non-verbal child slipped out of the house, passed a storm-wrecked fence (that would have normally protected the property), and headed to the flooded canal near the home in the Lehigh area of Ft. Myers, Florida.

Tahjan suspected something was wrong when he could not find his brother and went on a mission to find him. The two, despite their age differences, were best friends.

“Mom, mom, mom! Tahjir got out of the house!” he shouted to his mother, Lachera Burrowes, pounding on her door.

Before she could answer, the older sibling had dashed out the door, hoping to save his helpless brother.

Lachera also leaped into action, jumping in her car and driving over to the canal near their home.

Once arriving, the waters were still, and could not find either of her children.

She said, “I saw nothing… Quiet.”

Alarm flushed over the mother, as she called the police to launch a search mission — looking for the two boys through the community and searching the streets. Then hours later, detectives gave her the news that no parent ever wants to hear: Her children were found but not alive.

Authorities said Tahjon and Tahjir both drowned in the water.

The mom believes that the older brother must have been doing whatever he could to secure his brother but lost his life instead.

“I don’t know if one could be without the other,” the mother said when talking about their special bond. “He could not stand there and not jump in.”

The mother of three also said she tried to prepare for the storm, especially because of the young son’s aversion to storms.

As a special needs child, Tahjir had issues with storms, even becoming constipated in 2017 after Hurricane Irma left their home in darkness for days.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said the brothers’ deaths were ruled an accident, adding no foul play was suspected, adding to the death toll of 130 people since it touched down.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the family to help with the expenses for the boys’ funeral on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the Gendron Funeral Home, starting at 9 a.m. The mother plans to bury her sons together. After six days, the campaign raised $14,500.

Hurricane Ian made history becoming the deadliest hurricane for Florida since 1935.

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